Triumph of a Child Cancer Survivor
Fortunately, children's cancers are rare. Only one in every 600 children under the age of 15 develops a cancer and these are usually quite different from those affecting adults. Four-month-old Larissa Potenza's form of leukemia was of the rarest type.
Now seven years old and cancer-free, Larissa is joyful proof that the treatment of cancer in children has been among the most successful in medical history. She has come through everything so far like a trooper and has the best attitude in the world.
They are a cheerful family, the Potenzas, who now treat every day like a holiday. "Our lives changed forever with Larissa's diagnosis", said her mother Ina. "This was the most challenging experience of our life," continued her father Dan, "but we were blessed with the best doctors and nurses at CancerCare Manitoba who took wonderful care of her."
Larissa's journey took her through many rounds of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. Larissa was only ten months old when she had the bone marrow transplant and the donor was her heroic then-two-year-old brother, Daniel.
"It is a daunting task for a clinician to deliver care to such young patients," said CancerCare Manitoba's bone marrow transplant specialist Dr. Marlis Schroeder. "The prospects for children with leukemia have improved dramatically because of the collaborative basic and clinical research performed by scientists and clinicians around the world. This has led to advances in treatment which include drugs used in various combinations and bone marrow transplantation in selected patients for whom transplant offers the best chance for a cure."
CancerCare Manitoba introduced Larissa and her family to a clinical trial run by the Children's Oncology Group. Since this was such a rare form of cancer, the Potenzas hoped they would find a successful treatment that would also help to improve cancer treatment for future patients.
Watching your child being treated for cancer is always a devastating experience but, having survived this, the Potenzas learned that reading about the disease and asking questions provided some much-needed emotional strength and helped to address the day-to-day concerns they had about Larissa's illness.
CancerCare Manitoba is dedicated to finding better treatments and preventing childhood cancer through compassionate care, scientific research and discovery. The Foundation has made an unyielding commitment to secure the future for all children with cancer treated at CancerCare Manitoba, and children like Larissa continue to offer hope.
We work to support and expand our existing programs and, most importantly, enhance the research that is so vital to continuing our fight for these young lives. Please know that we appreciate your support and commitment. We couldn't do it without you.